On Senate Floor, Durbin Praises New Bipartisan Gun Safety Framework

Durbin: I'm prepared to do everything I can as a Senator and as Whip to bring the votes together to get this done as quickly as possible.

WASHINGTON – In a speech on the Senate floor, U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, today praised the bipartisan framework to help keep America’s children and communities safe from our nation’s epidemic of gun violence. The bipartisan proposal was crafted by a group of senators led by Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and John Cornyn (R-TX), and comes after recent mass shootings including the shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, that claimed the lives of 19 students and two teachers. Firearms are now the leading cause of death among American children and teens. This week, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing to discuss the need to protect children from gun violence and to hear from witnesses, including a 19-year-old from Chicago, about the lasting trauma that gun violence leaves on children.

Durbin said, “We have a chamber evenly divided 50-50. It's difficult to say that any one party or one person will get exactly what they want in this political atmosphere. But it's equally important to note that we have all gone home and gotten the message over and over again, whether it was in reference to a supermarket killing in Buffalo, a school, a fourth-grade school class in Uvalde, Texas, or a doctor and other bystanders being killed in a Tulsa, Oklahoma, hospital. All of that has occurred in the last few days. The American people have reacted with one voice, and they have said to us two words—do something. To members of Congress, don't just tell us you're going to give us your thoughts and prayers. Every decision in this agreement could save a life. For that reason, if for no other, I will be supporting it.”

In addition to making improvements to the background check system, supporting red flag laws, enhancing school safety, and closing domestic violence loopholes, the bipartisan framework would also provide funds for desperately need mental health and trauma support services.

“Half of the people who die because of a gun in America commit suicide,” continued Durbin. “It is the plea for help that we should be answering. This could help.”

The bipartisan framework includes proposals to crack down on straw purchasing—an issue that Durbin has been pushing for years. In 2021, Chicago Police Department Officer Ella French was killed by a gun that was bought in a straw purchase.

“The outpouring of sentiment in favor of Ella French and her family was overwhelming and I hope we can get this provision which I worked on with Senator Collins and Senator Leahy included in the package to tighten up on penalties on those who make straw purchases,” said Durbin. “If you're going to lie to buy a gun for someone who can't pass a background check, you ought to pay dearly for that. It cost Ella French her life. I hope that we can stick with this provision all the way through.”

Durbin is a lead cosponsor of federal legislation to combat straw purchasing and illegal trafficking in firearms in order to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous criminals.  The Stop Illegal Trafficking in Firearms Act of 2021 would, for the first time, make it an explicit federal crime, carrying felony penalties, to act as a straw purchaser of firearms, as opposed to current law, which treats straw purchases essentially as paperwork violations. 

Durbin concluded, “Does an agreement like this do everything that I would like? No, it doesn't. If we can pass it, will be the most significant gun violence reform in 30 years in Congress… We have a long way to go before we reach the finish line, but I want to commend those Senators who have worked so hard to bring us to this point and just make it very clear, I'm prepared to do everything I can as a Senator and as Whip to bring the votes together to get this done as quickly as possible.”

Video of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Audio of Durbin’s floor speech is available here.

Footage of Durbin’s floor speech is available here for TV Stations.